The marshals of the controversy in Bolsonaro’s Brazil

The authoritarian drift of Jair Bolsonaro It does not seem improvised, a product of the calamities that spread throughout Brazil. He is not under siege – he received 123 orders from Impeachment – that he makes the decisions to perpetuate himself in the government. He did it before and he does it now by means of a thoughtful battery of measures that transformed the country into a laboratory of authoritarianism and the vindication of State terrorism under the guise of a current democracy. It was just met in the middle of a scandal lthe alleged promotion of little more than two hundred senior officers of the Armed Forces to the highest hierarchy of the military career, that of Marshal. Among them appears the torturer Colonel Carlos Alberto Brilhante Ustra, promoted post mortem thanks to Law 13954 of December 16, 2019. The revelation was released by the Brazilian publication Forum, based on official data from the Transparency Portal, a page of the Ministry of Transparency and General Controllership of the Union created in 2004 during the Lula government. The Army denied the information and said there are no active or retired generals with a similar rank.


Brilhante Ustra is not the only one in the highest hierarchy. He is joined by other generals very close to the far-right president and even former military officials of the extensive Brazilian dictatorship (1964-1985). The journalist Henrique Rodrigues, who wrote a couple of documented articles on the subject, listed several cases: Augusto Heleno, Prime Minister of the Institutional Security Office of the Presidency of the Republic (GSI) of the Bolsonaro government, former Army Commander Edson Leal Pujol and Eduardo Villas Bôas (N of R: the same one who pressured the Court to have Lula imprisoned), as well as Sérgio Etchegoyen, who also held the GSI, but under the direction of Michel Temer… ”.

Several of these members of the military or the retired relatives of those who died charge huge amounts. It was possible thanks to Law 13954 with which Bolsonaro, before completing a year in office, restructured the military career and established the Social Protection System of the Armed Forces.

With Brilhante Ustra – whom the denier president claims as a “national hero” – the government skipped some ranks. At most, he could have been a brigadier general since in life he had gone into retirement as a colonel. The torturer was convicted for the DOI-CODI case, the acronym with which the Internal Operations Detachments (DOI) and the Operations and Internal Defense Centers (CODI) of the Brazilian regime were known in São Paulo. The fearsome area of ​​intelligence where the colonel stood out for his sadism. When Bolsonaro was a federal deputy and voted in favor of the impeachment of Dilma Rousseff, he loudly vindicated the former president’s executioner.

According to Forum, Brilhante Ustra passed “his marshal’s pension to his daughters Patricia Silva Brilhante Ustra and Renata Silva Brilhante Ustra, who received 15,307 reais each.” If the average price between the purchase and sale price of Banco Nación were taken, each of their descendants received 290,833 Argentine pesos as of Friday 6.

The Brazilian publication also points out that obtaining the highest hierarchy by one hundred generals and some 115 officers of the Navy and Air Force was possible because Bolsonaro “did not revoke the previous legal system” and caused “that these generals apparently began to appear as marshals. . The interpretation given by the federal government to proceed with such promotions is unknown, as the Ministry of Defense does not clarify the circumstances of these hierarchy changes, nor the date on which they occurred ”Rodrigues wrote in his first note.

The Army Command, as published by the UOL news site, “denied having made ‘any’ promotions” of general officers to the post of marshal in the country. “The information generated concern in the political sectors of Brasilia because it would indicate another privilege granted by the Armed Forces in the context of a Bolsonaro government full of military personnel in key administrative positions,” explained Rubens Valente, the UOL columnist.

Special mention is made of the case of General Newton Cruz, former head of the SIN (National Intelligence Service) between 1977 and 1983 during the de facto governments of Ernesto Geisel and João Figueiredo, who covered the last two periods of the dictatorship. At 96 he is still immersed in the Cold War. A member of the so-called “hard line” of the de facto regime, he receives 34,565.71 reais per month as a pensioner. In 1983, dressed in uniform and during a conversation with journalists, he had one of them, Honorio Dantas, arrested because he did not like their questions. But it did not stay there. After demanding that he be quiet, she took him by the neck from behind and dragged him by one arm. The video is still kept on the internet.

“It’s pure nitroglycerin,” another well-known journalist in Brazil, the late Geneton Moraes Neto, defined Cruz, who interviewed him in 2011 for Globo News when he was 85 years old. This marshal was, in addition to being in charge of the Intelligence area, the head of the Planalto military command.

Request for explanations

The massive promotion of senior officers led to what Forum defined as “the spree of the marshals”. The affair of these retirements and privileged pensions has already reached Congress. Opposition lawmakers stated that they will ask the Defense Ministry for explanations. Among the beneficiaries of the regime provided by law 13954 are Generals Augusto Heleno, current Minister Chief of the Institutional Security Cabinet of the Presidency, and the Brazilian Defense Minister himself, Walter Braga Netto.

“It’s a mockery”

The national deputy of the PT María do Rosario explained to PageI12 what he thinks of the case: “It’s a mockery! It is no longer about the absurd individual homage of a parliamentarian to the torturer. It is the use of public and government money against the Constitution and human rights. All that remains is for the Bolsonaro government to fall to the moral rot that it represents. ” Forum He stated that the promotions represent for the State “four billion (reais) a year from the public treasury only in the payment to living officers of the Brazilian army, the Navy and the Air Force.”

The contradiction of this saga starring the marshals is that that military rank ceased to exist in 1967 and was restored in 1980 by federal law 6880. To access that hierarchy, the military in a position to do so had to meet an exclusive requirement: to have earned it in the battlefield.

The last one in that condition was João Baptista Mascarenhas de Morais. He commanded the Brazilian Expeditionary Force (FEB) in the liberation of Italy during World War II. Congress named him a marshal in 1946. He died with that military rank in 1968. None of the generals that make up Bolsonaro’s auric circle can boast of having gained such status in combat. “The cabinet marshals were created with a stroke of the pen and enjoy high military rank, which in many cases passed to their widows and daughters,” published the Brazilian journalist Rodrigues. The Army denied it despite the fact that Forum It relied on documentation taken from the Transparency Portal on retirements and pensions of the military command.

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